The Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to obtain the phone and text records of Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward .
Ward served as a fake voter for Donald Trump in Arizona, one of the states the former president lost but where Republicans have come together to field a list of pro-Trump voters.
Ward argued that the subpoena was too intrusive and violated his First Amendment rights, potentially exposing political ties. The committee also requested Ward’s testimony. She invoked her Fifth Amendment rights during deposition.
The judges denied Ward’s request to freeze the subpoena and lifted a temporary order put in place earlier by Judge Elena Kagan, who oversees the appeals court that decided the case.
Judges Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito reportedly agreed to block the subpoena, the court heard.
The ruling is the latest dispute over Jan. 6 to come before the conservative-leaning court. Last January, the High Court paved the way for the release of Trump’s White House presidential records to the committee. Only Thomas has publicly noted a vote for Trump.
The House Select Committee subpoena orders T-Mobile USA, Inc. to release call records from Ward’s phone for the period November 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021, and was only seeking times and call durations when Ward was serving as a voter for Trump.
The recordings do not include content or location information. A district court judge ruled against Ward and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld.
“The subpoena is essentially related to the government’s important interest in investigating the causes of the January 6 attack and protecting future elections against similar threats,” the appeals court said.
“The investigation, after all, is not about Ward’s politics; it is about her involvement in the events leading up to the January 6 attack, and he is seeking to find out who she communicated with about those events,” the appeals court added. “The fact that some of the people Ward communicated with may be members of a political party does not establish that the subpoena is likely to reveal” sensitive information about [the party’s] members and supporters.
In the emergency application filed with Kagan, Ward’s attorneys argued that the case was “unprecedented” with “profound precedent implications for future congressional investigations and rights of political association under the first amendment”.
If Ward’s phone and text messages are leaked, they added, “Congressional investigators will contact everyone who contacted her during and immediately after the turmoil of the 2020 election.”
In response, attorneys for the select committee explained that they were seeking the phone records because Ward was at the center of several post-election efforts to undermine the popular vote and “assisted an attempted coup.”
“These documents will illuminate how Dr. Ward contributed to the multi-part effort to interfere with the peaceful transition of power and the attack on the US Capitol,” the attorneys wrote.
The House noted that Ward told Arizona officials to stop counting ballots after the 2020 election; encouraged local officials to contact Trump attorney Sidney Powell; attempted to arrange a phone call between Trump and the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors; and she was part of the group that sent fake electoral votes for Trump to Congress.
This story has been updated with additional details.
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